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Testing and analysis by Tim Higgins

The BlackArmor 440 was tested with our standard NAS test process with 4000.0181 firmware and four 1 TB Seagate ST31000333AS Barracuda 7200.11, 7200 RPM, 32 MB drives. Tests were run with 100 and 1000 Mbps LAN connections in RAID 0, 5 and 10 modes.

I first checked backup performance to an Iomega UltraMax Pro Desktop Hard Drive configured in RAID 0 attached via USB 2.0. The test copies a 4.35 GB ripped DVD test folder that I use in the NAS Chart Vista SP1 file copy tests from the NAS to the attached drive. The results are summarized in Table 1, which show very slow backup performance.

Product Backup Throughput (MBytes/s)
USB - FAT32 4.98
USB - NTFS 1.95
Table 1: Backup throughput test summary

It's not surprising to see low performance with NTFS, since most NASes use a free open source driver that limits performance with that format. But a business class NAS, especially one with up to 8 TB of storage, needs to do better than 5 MB/s for backup! For comparison, the single-drive QNAP TS-119, which uses the same Marvell processor and half the memory, measured just shy of 21 MB/s on the same test!

Figure 18 presents a summary of the write benchmark tests run for the BA 440. The combined striping and mirroring provided by RAID 10 really help boost performance back up toward the highest RAID 0 line, but at the cost of less usable storage. Write performance with a 1000 Mbps LAN connection averaged over the 32 MB to 4 GB file sizes and with cached results above 125 MB/s removed from the average comes in at 29.8, 22.3 and 28.1 MB/s for RAID 0, 5 and 10 writes, respectively.

Performance benchmark summary - write

Figure 18: Performance benchmark summary - write

Figure 19 shows the average read performance for the same test configurations which came in higher at 33.5, 35.3 and 30.8 MB/s for RAID 0, 5 and 10, respectively.

Performance benchmark summary - write

Figure 19: Performance benchmark summary - read

Vista SP1 filecopy results measured 27.2, 20.2 and 23.9 MB/s for RAID 0, 5 and 10 writes and 47.5, 50.4 and 39.4 MB/s for reads.

For the competitive comparison, I took chose the Buffalo TeraStation III, another recently-released four-drive business focused NAS and Thecus' three-drive N3200 Pro, a new three-drive product. Figure 20 shows that the RAID 5 write performance converges toward the low 20 MB/s range for all three products, once file size gets out beyond NAS RAM size. Note that each product uses a different processor, the Buffalo a Marvell MV78100-A0 C080 and the Thecus an AMD LX800. The Buffalo has 512 MB of memory and the other two have 256 MB.

Competitive write comparison  - RAID 5, 1000 Mbps LAN

Figure 20: Competitive write comparison - RAID 5, 1000 Mbps LAN

Figure 21 compares the RAID 5 read performance, which shows a wider range. The BA 440 is the most consistent, settling in around 33 MB/s at the larger file sizes. The Buffalo and Thecus read speeds rise until file sizes equal their RAM sizes, then fall back into the 40 to 40 MB/s range. At any rate, both the Thecus and Buffalo have higher RAID 5 read speed.

Competitive read comparison  - RAID 5, 1000 Mbps LAN

Figure 21: Competitive read comparison - RAID 5, 1000 Mbps LAN

Use the NAS Charts to further explore performance.

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